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Zelenskyy criticizes United Nations for inaction, details atrocities in Ukraine

WASHINGTON — Ukrainian President Volodmyr Zelenskyy on Tuesday laid out atrocities committed by Russia in Ukraine in a powerful speech to the U.N. Security Council from Kyiv.

Zelenskyy said that he visited the city of Bucha near Kyiv on Monday and that the Russian military there had “searched for and purposely killed anyone who served our country.”

“They shot and killed women outside their houses,” Zelenskyy said. “They killed entire families, adults and children, and they tried to burn the bodies.”

The Ukrainian leader said civilians were fatally shot in the back of the heads after being tortured. Some were shot in the streets and thrown into wells and others were killed in their own apartments by grenades, he said.

“The civilians were crushed by tanks while sitting in their cars in the middle of the road,” he continued. “They cut off limbs, cut their throats, slashed their throats. Women were raped and killed in front of their children. Their tongues were pulled out only because the aggressor did not hear what they wanted to hear from them.”

April 5, 202203:36

Zelenskyy said these war crimes are no different than those committed by terrorist groups like the Islamic State.

“Where is the security that the Security Council needs to guarantee? It’s not there,” he said. “Where is the peace?”

Zelenskyy suggested that the Security Council cannot work effectively when Russia is one of its permanent members. “The world has yet to see what they have done in other occupied cities and regions of our country,” he said.

Russian soldiers are deliberately blocking cities, creating mass starvation, Zelenskyy said. He said they also shoot columns of civilians on the road who are trying to escape and blow up shelters where innocent people hide from airstrikes. Zelenskyy also said the Russian military had abducted more than 2,000 children and has been looting cities and villages it has captured.

“Do you think that the time of international law is gone? If your answer is no, then you need to act immediately,” Zelenskyy said. “The U.N. Charter must be restored immediately. The U.N. system must be reformed immediately.”

Zelenskyy proposed convening a global conference in Kyiv where countries can try to reform the global security system. He said the goals that nations set when it created the U.N. in 1945 “have not been achieved.”

He said the Security Council can remove Russia from its body so that “it cannot block decisions about its own aggression, its own war and then do everything that we can do to establish peace.” Or, he said, the U.N. can reform itself or dissolve itself altogether.

Afterward, Zelenskyy presented a graphic video that featured a montage of images of the dead in the streets of Ukraine — burned, charred bodies, piled on top of one another, and one with a dog that was alive lying down next to it.